Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I had no idea.

Whistling in the dark?
I always wanted to be a father. I had no idea.

Being a father is hard. It's not like my two teens make it hard, at least not any harder than any other kids do. I love my kids like I love writing. More. But I had to grow into this role.

I am not a friend to my teens. I do not treat them as equals. Instead, I'm a coach. That's how I would describe it. Their personalities demand it. I teach. Encourage. Discipline. Enforce boundaries. Help set goals. Advise. Make them think. Steer them toward their talents. Question their choices. Force them to make choices. Push. Pull. Mentor. Counsel. Cheer. Convince. Collaborate (to a point). Remind them to shake it off. Believe in them. Caution them when they win. Love them when they lose. And sometimes I just let them play while I go regroup.

I wish I could be more, and less. Less selfish. I wish I were one of those born-to-be-a-father fathers. They do exist. I know some. Sure. They're human. They only seem perfect. But still...

Don't tell them, but there are times when I don't father my teens. And you know what? Those are my absolute favourite times being a father. Those times are rare. Some examples:

When we travel together. Our favourite trips north south east west mean so much to me: wandering together, discovering, exploring, sharing. Love that. When I listen to my son play guitar. When I listen to my daughter sing. When my son and I golf; I never act like a parent during those excursions. (We eat chips, catch frogs, find lost golf-balls; I let him lead; he's a much better golfer than I am.) And I'm never the parent when my daughter and I discover a new song or new book or a quirky movie to share, discuss, revel in.

It probably doesn't seem like much. But that's just the way it is. Right now anyway. When they were young, everything was a discovery together: snow, debating if the moon is a boy or a girl, the ocean floor covered with starfish. Loved that. But they are becoming their own people now, just as they always were, just as it should be.

Yes. Fathering is hard. I had no idea.

22 comments:

Windsmoke. said...

It would be easy to raise kids if they came with their own instruction or operation manual :-).

Alistair said...

Fathering a child is easy. Even complete idiots do it on a regular basis.

It's being the father you describe so well here that's hard.

Very well put.

Homemaker Man said...

I'm more of a supervisor at a non union coal mine kind of dad.

Pickleope said...

The coach analogy is very fitting. Great post. Oh, and the moon is totally a dude. The sun is a lady.

Core Contrarian said...

Truth!

Tim Riley said...

Great post! I feel like a coach a lot of the time myself. One of the many hats a good Dad has to wear.

karensomethingorother said...

Well, sure it's damn hard, but it sounds to me like you're also a friend. A friend can be with their kids and enjoy their interests, just as you do.

Why do so many parents proclaim with pride (not saying you proclaimed this with pride, etc, just observing stuff I've read), that they are NOT FRIENDS WITH THEIR CHILDREN. Uh uh. No way. They are the PARENT. The child is The child.


I parent my children as well. I impose rules and boundaries. I make them go to bed at 8:30, even when the other kids are still whooping it up outside. I make them take vitamins, and finish their milk, and I make them accountable for negative behaviour. But, I am also their friend, because I have not forgotten what it's like to be a child.

And damn, it's exhausting.

Oilfield Trash said...

I don't find it to be hard most of the time.

Munk said...

Enjoyable insights. Thanks.

j. littlejohn said...

when your kids were born, they didn't know how to be kids yet, either

Antares Cryptos said...

Very well put.

The moon is a girl;)

paulsifer42 said...

Aw, I wanna be a dad some day...

Laoch of Chicago said...

Elegantly expressed.

dbs said...

@Windsmoke I wish.
@Alistair Thanks.
@HMan Ha!
@Pickleope I thought so too but...
@CC My truth.
@Tim Thanks.
@karen You made me think. I like that.
@OT Lucky man.
@Munk No, thank you for being so supportive.
@j.littlejohn Well said.
@AC That's what I thought too as in Luna.
@paul Soon.
@LoC Appreciate that.

Al Penwasser said...

You don't sound like a father to me. You sound like a dad.
Bravo!

Brent Wescott said...

I'm glad Charlie led me over here with the "don't kick my shins" award. I like your style.

Missy said...

You have made me cry. This is an awesome post! I wish more men could "father" this way!

Nicole said...

dbs, you're a love. Well done.

dbs said...

@AP Thanks.
@Brent Thanks. I am too.
@Missy Thank you so much but I really don't deserve any praise.
@Nicole So kind. Thank you.

Michael said...

You make it sound easy. Like it should me. Like it is.

Karen Peterson said...

My favorite memories from growing up are of the times when my dad wasn't being The Father.

I'm sure it's a tough job, but your kids are lucky to have you.

Kelly said...

I find one on one time with my kids is so important. That's when we are both at our best. Nice post... Good luck going viral!

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